Jean Blondel PhD Prize

2015 - Jovana Mihajlovic Trbovc

The 2015 Jean Blondel PhD Prize for the best thesis in politics has been awarded Jovana Mihajlovic Trbovc (University of Ljubljana and Peace Institute Ljubljana) for her thesis: ‘Public Narratives of the Past in the Framework of Transitional Justice Processes: The Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina’.

The judges were: Petra Meier (University of Antwerp), Christoph Scherrer (University of Kassel) and Birte Siim (University of Aalborg); Birgit Sauer (University of Vienna) represented the ECPR and acted as chair. They were unanimous in their choice and reported as follows:

Jovana Mihajlovic Trbovc examines the processes of transitional justice in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The thesis challenges assumptions about ‘transitional justice’ by studying the prosecution of war crime perpetrators in the 1992 to 1995 war. Different from assumptions that once the ‘truth’ about these crimes is publicly presented, it becomes part of the common public memory of the country, the dissertation shows that memory-making became a new battleground between the three dominant ethno-national elite groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Hence, the thesis shows that memory-making was not a process of transnational justice. The dissertation embodies a number of innovations: it critically assesses and introduces the concept of ‘transitional justice’ into political science, and in doing so bridges nicely legal and political science fields; and by selecting important case studies to analyse collective memory-making contributes to a political science concept of collective memory. Jovana Mihajlovic Trbovc enhances studies about transitional justice by taking a nuanced qualitative approach; the thesis analyses meaning production of ethnic elite groups in the processes of transitional justice and is able to show how ethnicity became an important factor in the peace process. A significant research effort the thesis undermines such assumptions as ‘truth’ being easily detected in processes of transition, but shows how truth is part of on-going hegemonic struggles, paving the way forward to further research. Finally, the thesis is nicely constructed, the qualitative research has been very well carried-out, and on the whole is a pleasure to read.

Jovana Mihajlovic Trbovc will receive her award during the Joint Sessions of Workshops at the University of Pisa, Italy in April 2016.

This year’s shortlist also comprised:

  • Andrea Gideon (University of Leeds) ‘European Higher Education Institutions Under EU Law Constraints: an Interdisciplinary Analysis of the Position of European Higher Education Institutions between Directly Applicable EU Law and Their Public Service Mission’
  • Antonia Graf (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster) ‘Shaping Sustainability? Diskursive Macht transnationaler Unternehmen im Nachhaltigkeitsdiskurs’
  • Astrid Reinprech (Universität Wien) ‘Moving Democracy. Student Contention in former Yugoslavia’
  • Joern Richert (University of Bielefeld) ‘Constructing Global Energy Politics’

2014 - Carolina Plescia

The 2014 Jean Blondel PhD Prize for the best thesis in politics has been awarded to Carolina Plescia (Trinity College Dublin and Universität Wien) for her thesis:  Split-Ticket Voting in Mixed-Member Electoral Systems: A Theoretical and Methodological Investigation.

The judges were: Josep Colomer (Institute for Economic Analysis (UAB), Barcelona), Rainer Forst (Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt a. Main) and Martin Westlake (College of Europe, Bruges and LSE (visiting)); Peter Kennealy (EUI, Florence) represented the ECPR Press and acted as chair. They were unanimous in their choice and reported as follows:

Dr Plescia examines the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of split-ticket voting, combining a purely methodological analysis based on the New Zealand and Scottish parliamentary elections, a comparative study across ten mixed-member electoral systems, and two in-depth case studies (Japan and Italy’s regional elections). The dissertation embodies a number of innovations: using both individual and aggregate data (proving, in the process, that a composite approach provides more accurate understanding); a comparative rather than case study approach (though illuminated by the two case studies at the end); separating intentional versus forced split-ticket voting; using the Scottish and New Zealand legislative elections to test the reliability of the predictive model. Dr Plescia enhances electoral analysis by taking a more nuanced approach that does not rely on intuitive assumptions but real behaviour where it can be measured and evaluated. Her findings are notably similar across countries. She highlights some interesting differences across types of mixed systems and levels of experience with electoral rules. A significant research effort the thesis undermines such assumptions as the one party preference and points the way forward to further research. The dissertation is elegantly constructed, the quantitative and qualitative research has been well carried-out, and the whole is a pleasure to read.

Dr Plescia will receive her award during the Joint Sessions of Workshops at the University of Warsaw, Poland (29th March – 2nd April 2015). This year’s shortlist also comprised:

  • Brack, Nathalie (Université libre de Bruxelles) ‘Opposing Europe. Which roles for Eurosceptics in the European Parliament?’
  • Schubiger, Livia Isabella (University of Zurich) ‘Repression and Mobilization in Civil War: The Consequences of State Violence for Wartime Collective Action’

2013 - Christian Rauh

The 2013 Jean Blondel PhD Prize for the best thesis in politics has been awarded to Christian Rauh (Wissenschaftzentrum für Sozialforschung and Freie Universität Berlin) for his thesis:  Politicisation, issue salience, and consumer policies of the European Commission. Does public awareness and contestation of supranational matters increase the responsiveness of Europe’s central agenda-setter?

The jury consisted of the judges, Paolo Bellucci (University of Siena), Paul Heywood (University of Nottingham) and Birgit Sauer (University of Vienna); Peter Kennealy (EUI, Florence) represented the ECPR Press and acted as chair.

The thesis challenges the image of the EU Commission as a technocratic actor removed from societal and political demands. On the contrary, Rauh’s analysis shows that European elites adapt their decisions to a politicised context. His research provides an insightful account of the European Commission’s approach to policy making, helping us understand better the dynamics of policy development in relation to European integration. The extent of public awareness, issue contestation and salience are shown to constrain the Commission positions, and explain the location of its policy stance between laissez-faire and interventionism in consumer and market regulation.  The research design nicely combines public-opinion and public-policy analyses, relying on multiple sources (including public opinion surveys, media analysis, elite interviews, and process tracing) which produce compelling evidence for the conditions (when? why? how?) that promote EU institutions’ responsiveness to European citizens.

Dr Rauh will receive his award during the Joint Sessions of Workshops at the Universidad de Salamanca, Spain, 10–15 April 2014.

This year’s short-list comprised:

  • Patrick Bayer, Universität Mannheim – ‘Distributional, Institutional, and Informational Dynamics in International Cooperation on Climate Change’

  • Hanna Schwander, University of Zurich – ‘The Politicization of the Insider-Outsider Divide in Western Europe: Labour Market Vulnerability and its Political Consequences’


2012 - Didier Caluwaerts, Julian Wucherpfennig

The Jean Blondel PhD Prize for 2012 was, for the first time, jointly awarded to Didier Caluwaerts (Vrije Universiteit Brussels) for a PhD entitled ‘Confrontation and Communication: Experiments on Deliberative Democracy in Linguistically Divided Belgium’, and to Julian Wucherpfennig (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zürich) for a PhD entitled ‘Fighting for Change: Onset, Duration, and Recurrence of Ethnic Conflict’. The jury consisted of the judges, Robert Elgie, Piero Ignazi and Hanspeter Kriesi; Peter Kennealy, as the representative of ECPR Press, acted as chairman. Dr Caluwaerts’ dissertation asks whether exercises in deliberative democracy in deeply divided societies reduce political conflict. Specifically, it examines whether different institutional rules affect the quality of deliberative democracy. Based on a highly innovative experimental research design, whereby small groups of people from the different linguistic communities in Belgium were brought together to debate contentious political issues, Dr Caluwaerts finds that the quality of deliberative democracy was as high in discussions held between linguistically divided groups as in those between homogenous groups. He also finds that group decision-making rules were good predictors of deliberative quality in linguistically homogeneous groups, but were less so in divided groups. The jury was particularly impressed with the very careful research design and the clarity of the writing style, which makes the thesis accessible to both a professional and a wider audience. Dr Wucherpfennig’s dissertation examines the role of ethnicity in the onset, duration and recurrence of civil wars. It proposes a theoretically grounded grievance-based model in which the systematic denial of state benefits on the basis of ethnicity creates a collective demand for political change that can lead to conflict. It then submits this model to rigorous empirical testing and finds support for it. The jury was impressed by the way in which Dr Wucherpfennig identified the potential impact of his findings. In contrast to much of the existing scholarship, which assumes that grievances are constant and ethnic conflict is inevitable, Dr Wucherpfennig’s work suggests that if grievances can be accommodated, then conflict can be avoided.


2011 - Virginie Van Ingelgom

Integrating Indifference book cover
Integating Indifference
- Virginie Van Ingelgom
More details
More about Virginie Van Ingelgom

Virginie Van Ingelgom (U.C. de Louvain) for her dissertation on ‘Intégrer l’indifférence: Une approche comparative, qualitative et quantitative, de la légitimité de l’intégration européenne’ (‘Integrating indifference: a comparative, qualitative and quantitative approach to the legitimacy of European integration’). The jury (Manuel Alcantara, Judith Squires, and Dario Castiglione) considered the dissertation to be both innovative and sophisticated in dealing with the EU legitimacy issue. It is written in a clear and effective style, appealing both to a specialist readership and a wider audience. The thesis advances our existing knowledge of the European Union in significant respects, bringing together elements of political theory, empirical analysis of opinions and attitudes, and the study of regional integration processes all of which bear on the issue of legitimacy. The thesis distinguishes itself by a deft combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, as well as its attention to both the macro and the micro dimensions of its topic. The thesis examines the political legitimacy of European integration from an ‘internal’ perspective, focusing on citizens’ subjective perceptions, and their acceptance of, or resistance to, the process of European integration. Distinguishing itself from other literature on this issue, the thesis attempts to analyse and make political sense of the indifference that many citizens have towards integration, by treating this valid reaction rather than a residual state somewhere between acceptance and rejection.


2010 - Paul Gill

Paul Gill (University College Dublin) for his dissertation on ‘The Dynamics of Suicide Bombing in Campaigns of Political Violence’. The jury (Mick Cox, Amy Mazur and Dario Castiglione) considered this dissertation to be well written, engaging and appealing to a wide audience. Its approach is innovative, connecting different areas of political research, and based on solid empirical evidence. It scored high on all criteria, such as research innovation, methodological awareness, knowledge accumulation, research effort and clarity of execution. The thesis offers a new and complex perspective of the 'culture of martyrdom' underlying political experiences of suicide bombing. It proposes a multi-dimensional and interactive model of how such culture emerges and is fostered, mixing psychological, organisational and cultural levels of analysis, and borrowing from a variety of literatures such as social identity and social movement theories. It attempts to confirm its thesis by counterfactual arguments, and addresses a political problem of topical relevance.


2009 - Daniel Mügge

Widen The Market Narrow The Competition Book Cover
Widen the Market, Narrow the Competition
- Daniel Mügge
More details
More about Daniel Mügge

Daniel Mügge for his thesis ‘Widen the Market, Narrow the Competition: The Emergence of Supranational Governance in EU Capital Markets’. The jury (Alfio Mastropaolo, Susan Scarrow and Vincent Hoffmann-Martinot) considered this thesis to be extremely well written, fascinating and timely. An excellent dissertation in international political economy, addressing a key issue concerning the supranationalisation of governance: How can we best understand changes in patterns of governance in relation to shifting market structures? The prize was awarded during the Joint Sessions of Workshops in Münster in March 2010. The thesis was developed into a book and was published in 2010 as an ECPR Monograph.Widen the Market, Narrow the Competition.


2008 - Silja Häusermann

Silja Häusermann (European University Institute, Florence) for her thesis analysed the adaptation of continental welfare states to post-industrial risk structures.


2007 - Tanja Aalberts

Tanja Aalberts (Leiden University) for her thesis 'Politics of Sovereignty'. Since August 2006, Tanja E. Aalberts has been Assistant Professor at Leiden University, Department of Political Science. She obtained an MA in 1999 in Public Administration and Management (Bestuurskunde) at Twente University, Enschede, and in 2000 an MscEcon. in International Politics at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. In June 2006, she defended her dissertation Politics of Sovereignty, which was prepared at the Political Science Department of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and was awarded to her cum laude.


2006 - Daniel Naurin

Widen The Market Narrow The Competition Book Cover
Deliberation Behind Closed Doors
- Daniel Naurin
More details

Daniel Naurin (University of Gothenburg) was awarded the 2006 PhD Prize during the inaugural ECPR Graduate Conference at the University of Essex in September 2006 for his thesis 'Dressed for Politics: Why increasing transparency in the European Union will not make lobbyists behave any better than they already do'. A revised version of this work was published in the ECPR Monographs series in 2007 under the title Deliberation Behind Closed Doors.


2005 - Laura Morales Diez De Ulzurrun

Joining Political Organisations
Joining Political Organisations
- Laura Morales
More details

Laura Morales Diez De Ulzurrun (Universidad de Murcia) for her thesis 'Institutions, Mobilisation, and Political Participation: Political Membership in Western Countries'. A developed version of Dr Morales' thesis was published by the ECPR Press in 2008 under the title Joining Political Organisations.


2004 - Kevin Casas Zamora

Paying for Democracy
Paying for Democracy
- Kevin Casas Zamora
More details

Kevin Casas Zamora (University of Oxford), for his thesis 'Paying for Democracy in Latin America: Political Finance and State Funding for Parties in Costa Rica and Uruguay'. Dr Casas Zamora's thesis has since been developed into a book, and was published by the ECPR Press in 2005 under the title Paying for Democracy.


 

"In all forms of Government the people is the true Legislator" - Edmund Burke


Back to top